Bunker Pete, by Amy Redmond
We called him Bunker Pete for a long time after, when he came up in conversation.
We even created a new verb. Are you leaning in for a bunker there? I was nearly bunkered. Don’t bunker her, c’mon! We laughed and joked about him and the incident but I think when each of us retreated into our own world, the joke ended flat.
What a creep.
But that was how we managed. We turned him into a caricature in order to be able to go on with our young, hopeful lives.
It hadn’t been easy starting out in a new city. Trying to negotiate crowds, figure out train timetables, understand rates of exchange and whether we were being ripped off or bagging a deal.
It wasn’t my first time away from home so I felt responsible and worldly-wise. But the incident with bunker-man had left me on edge.
At the restaurant where I was waiting tables, I became wary around male management and customers. It was odd. Sex seemed to be everywhere: not porn, not images—just the palpable tension.
Before I had been bunkered, I had been lively and flirty and innocent. Now, I was reserved; on days off I sat in, drinking cans, smoking joints and watching the O.J. trial.
The memory lingered. It would envelop me late at night in my bed and I would again feel his slow, warm, snaking breath down my neck and back. And the fingers. Deft and thick. Those forceful fucking fingers.
In the July heat, I had been sleeping in a T-shirt and pants and was sharing the mattress on the living room floor with the three others. We had not used the bedroom as it smelled of death and we had agreed to just clean the living room, bathroom and kitchen instead.
We had been lent the apartment because the owner had returned to Ireland on a visit. Apparently, he hadn’t been back in years and would be gone a month; a barman in one of the Irish bars had set us up.
The filth didn’t deter us, sure it was a free gaff, so we hit the supermarket and bought cleaning supplies and just got down to it. We used knives to scrape up the inch-thick layers of grime and dull yellow grease and we went back and bought loads more bleach. Before long, we had the place smelling like a 1980s swimming pool changing room. We were thrilled. We even bought flowers in the corner shop.
Then we had showers and went down to the bar for celebratory pints. That was where we all laughed like hyenas when the barman told us his nick-name, Bunker Pete.
It was no laughing matter a week later. All four of us, wide awake and pretending to sleep when he returned unexpectedly in the middle of the night.
It was only me who got bunkered.
Amy Redmond has a BA in English and Spanish and a Masters in Journalism. Her screenplay was shortlisted for the RTE Filmbase Short Shots in 2016. Her journalism, poetry and flash fiction is published in The Irish Times, Film Ireland, Headstuff and Qutub Minar Review. She is writing her first novel.